DAVAO CITY – Militant lawmakers urged President Benigno Aquino III to sign into law the House Bill providing pension hike for members of the Social Security System.
House Bill 5842 was passed on third reading by the House of Representatives as early as June 9, 2015, and was passed en toto by the Senate on November 9, 2015. It was transmitted to Malacañang for the president’s signature mid-December.
Bayan Muna partylist representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate said the SSS pension is “long overdue”.
“We strongly urge President Aquino to sign the pension hike immediately. The very low minimum pension violates the mandate of the SSS of promoting promote social justice and provide meaningful protection for its members,” Colmenares said.
The original bill was first filed by Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casiño in the 15th Congress in 2011.
“Today’s minimum pension of P1,000-1,200, or even the P2,400 for those who contributed for twenty years, is way below the mark of meeting the needs of our senior citizens. It is not enough to buy food, pay bills, or buy the maintenance medicines that most of our seniors need,” Colmenares said.
Colmenares cited the findings of independent think-tank Ibon Foundation which said a member of a family of six in NCR needs at least P5,033 a month for its basic needs.
“This P2,000 increase in pension will at least lift the income of our seniors nearer the mark. We cannot overemphasize enough how important this pension increase is to our seniors. It is a matter of survival for the 1,528,269 pensioners,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zarate said that the pension hike bill had already surpassed many hurdles before reaching the Malacañang desk.
“Originally, we proposed a P5,000-pension increase believing that this amount is more appropriate considering today’s prices of commodities and the rising cost of basic utilities. Eventually, it got whittled down to P2,000 after congressional deliberations. Even with this slashed amount, the bill still squeezed through a needle’s eye before making it to the Senate,” Zarate said.
He said the SSS itself seemed determined to block the bill from passing.
“The SSS leadership became a stumbling block, too, as it raised unfounded bankruptcy claims if the bill passes. The obsession of the SSS to increase its fund life–which is already beyond 14 years–is trampling on its mandate to provide social justice and protection for its members. Yet, the people, particularly our senior citizens, cannot be deluded by their scare tactic of bankruptcy,” Zarate added. (davaotoday.com)